your baby like you do.
The moment you begin to doubt that connection, you begin to mistrust yourself—and your kids. That’s when we begin to white-knuckle the wheel, afraid we’ll get derailed, lost, driven off the road. Or stuck in the mud for good. Our joyride becomes a power trip.
Parenthood has no cruise control switch. There is no quick-fix for life, no magic formula, no guru that’s going to pave the way for us and guarantee a smooth ride. The joy on the journey is in the detours. The compass is within you...and your relationship with your child.
Are you curious?
Did anyone ever tell you that being the parent your child needs requires...curiosity? When we are curious about who our child is, we no longer focus exclusively on the outside package of behavior or how he acts and reacts.
Instead, we see all behavior and emotion as an expression. As communication.
What is he telling me? What is the context for her reaction? What is he feeling inside for him to be reacting this way on the outside? What is driving this behavior?
Ah, but in order to knows what “drives” your baby and your growing child...you have to understand one thing pretty well: Yourself.
Why am I reacting this way? Why did I just snap? What is it about how he’s reacting or feeling that is tripping my emotional alarms? What is driving my anger, my anxiety, or my sense of guilt and failure? Why do I feel so disconnected even when I’m here? How does this remind me of my own story growing up? What is my fear about?
That’s not selfish; it’s the best predictor of your child’s well-being. Decades of neuroscience of attachment attest to this fact, proven again and again from brain scans to adult attachment interviews (AAI), to clinical research on how mothers and babies interact and co-create relationship.
Did you know that brain science and attachment researchers have found that when we reflect on our own internal experience, we begin to grow the front of our brain (the mid-prefrontal cortex), an important part of our brain right behind our forehead that mediates empathy, self-regulation, flexibility, insight and intuition, even morality?
Here’s the most amazing fact of how relationship shapes our brains and minds: when we grow this part of our brain, the same area of our child’s brain grows in relationship with us.
So, as we increase our own capacity for love and connection, feel calm, feel empathy for ourselves in tight passages, forgive ourselves, cultivate insight and the ability to respond with patience and flexibility and to soothe our own fears and anxieties...our child develops the same capacities.
All because we dare to be curious. We want to know who we are in relationship as we learn who our child is in relation to and with us.
That’s the power of relationship. Our brains do the heavy lifting.
Not our rigid rules and imposed consequences.
Relationship is the place where we grow ourselves up. As we raise our kids.
C 2009 WYSH LLC Photo: Lisa Trakis for WYSH. Illustration by Tanya Leonello for WYSH LLC All rights reserved.